Monday, May 27, 2013

The magic of childhood summer memories

I love summer, and not because I'm a teacher and have my vacation time during the summer but because summer and the winter holidays always seem to be the times of childhood memories. Family moments happen the rest of the year but there's something about the warmer nights, the crickets and night sounds, sitting around a firepit, running free chasing fireflies, and playing in the water whether it's at the beach, the lake, the pool, the stream in the backyard, that makes this time of the year magical the same way there's something magical about the holiday lights and sounds and feelings in the air at Christmastime.

Some of my fondest childhood memories of summer time would be the countless, and I mean countless, weekends spent at the ball field from late March until the end of October. We lived for the ballfield. We would get up early on Saturday to start that tournament, stopping for donuts before making it to Adair park or whatever ballfield we were at for the weekend. The morning dew would still be coating the fields and we'd start with our Mizuno jackets on but by the end of the day, our sleeves would be rolled, we'd be covered in sweat and dirt, our knees would be bleeding from sliding into bases, our faces would be burned, and our bodies would be tired, but there something special about spending every weekend with that softball family. Moms and Dads would fill coolers full of drinks and food and when we weren't playing we'd camp out in the shade eating and laughing. We'd go home and a shower away the layers of dirt and we'd crash in our beds before the sun even set, knowing we needed our sleep to do it all over again on Sunday in order to compete for the championship game.

Softball for over a decade dominated our family summers. If we weren't at the ballfield my sisters and I were either out in the driveway pitching to our dad or fielding ground balls or occassionally making a trip to the batting cages. I remember as I left childhood behind wondering how my life would function without this game that I had known my whole childhood.

But there was more than just a ballfield to our summer childhood memories. There were Fourth of July picnics at our grandparents in which we would roast hotdogs over a fire and go swimming in a stinky, dirty pond. There were summer vacation roadtrips to Buffalo New York to see our grandparents. When we weren't fighting about one of us touching the others we were singing as loud as we could to Alabama or Johnny Horton (on old cassette tapes). My dad I think hated these long road trips trapped in a car with four girls but it was these trips that started my love for traveling. There was something about the anticipation of going somewhere different for awhile.

Just like myself I want my children to have wonderful childhood summer memories full of family moments. The girls right now are too little for competetive sports but we have definitely already started the family childhood memories with trips to see family. The girls' closest set of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins are six hours away, and the others are seventeen hours away so they will LOTS of car ride memories. But I can already see with Averi that she associates summer with seeing Nana, Gma Lorraine, Uncle Bob, and Taush, and her cousins, Alaina and Dylan and Heather and Dana and seeing her Papa, Nene, Aunt Kelly and Uncle Chris, Aunt Tete and Uncle Todd, and her bff Addi Rae and Paxton. And of course when we all get together it's water fun, adventure trips to things like the zoo, mini golfing, boat riding, waterparks, and big dinners together and kids runnning around  staying up late and you can always cause more trouble when you have your partner in crime, your cousin. Summer and the holidays are our two times a year to see family and I know these will be magical summer memories for the girls.

Other family summer childhood memories we've started the last few years are summer nights at the Drive In movie theater, cookouts that end in nights around the firepit with our Baltimore friends that have become our adopted family, weekend camping trips, beach days whether it's on the Chesapeake or the ocean, and family vacation trips somewhere new and fun (that's not Missouri or Pennsylvania). I want them to look back on these memories and cherish these moments of their childhood the same as I cherish mine. I want them to value family, which I can I feel I can see this already with Averi. I want the memories of summer to be that bubble of magic they can retreat to when we all want to rememeber the moments of life that do make it perfect.

I'm linking up today with my friend, Emily at Life Imperfected . The shore house she talks about as a childhood memory for herself and her children has also become a neat little place that we have visited with her a few times a year. It reminds me in some ways of the Lake of the Ozarks from back home, so just as it connects her to her childhood I have found it a nice way to connect back to home. Something about being near the water just makes life feel a little slower, a little more at peace, and makes everyone feel a little bit younger and like a child again. Hope everyone enjoys their magical childhood memories this summer. Happy summer!
                                               Family night at the Drive In Movie Theater

                                                                  Water slide fun


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